WEST LAFAYETTE — Glenn Robinson III was supposed to be the hero. It only made sense. He was supposed to catch the inbounded lob pass, take a dribble to the hoop and score as time expired.
That’s what the Robinsons do at Mackey Arena. Robinson’s dad, Glenn Robinson Jr., played two seasons at Purdue and averaged 27.5 points per game before leaving to play in the NBA. Robinson’s younger brother, Gelen, recently committed to play football for the Boilermakers. The Robinsons are a Purdue family — one of them just happened to escape to Michigan.
So it only made sense that with the game tied in overtime Wednesday night, Michigan coach John Beilein implemented a play with the sophomore forward as the main target. And it only made sense that Robinson executed it perfectly, sending the Michigan men’s basketball team home with a 77-76 win.
“Oh man, it was an awesome game,” Robinson Jr. said. “This is my school, so I root for both teams. I root for Purdue to play well, but you know, you gotta lose this one.”
The Wolverines shot just 8-for-27 in a forgettable first half and headed into halftime with a 13-point deficit. But in the second frame, Robinson helped Michigan chip away at the Boilermakers’ lead. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 4-for-6 from the field in the half and led the team with 17 points on the night.
With 13:47 left in the game, sophomore guard Spike Albrecht tossed a pass up for Robinson, who finished it with an alley-oop dunk, cutting the deficit to just nine and shifting the momentum away from Purdue. And just more than two minutes later, Robinson knocked down a jumper to pull Michigan to within two.
Then, with less than two minutes remaining, he went to the free throw line and knocked down two clutch shots to tie the game for the first time since the opening tipoff.
In the extra frame, the two teams traded buckets. After Purdue missed the front end of a one-and-one chance with fewer than 20 seconds left, the Wolverines brought the ball down the floor. Sophomore guard Caris LeVert had the ball at the top of the arc but looked around in a panic and saw no options, forcing Beilein to call a timeout.
With less than four seconds left, Beilein pulled out a play that the team had practiced for these types of situations — late in the game with fewer than five seconds left.
“We’ve run it before. I don’t think we’ve run it yet this year, but it’s a last-second play,” Beilein said. “We practice it probably once every two weeks … but they ran it last year as well. So one of the options is just get (the ball) to Glenn, and Glenn just makes a play. There’s other options in it, but Caris saw the switch, saw the mismatch and just threw it up, and Glenn went up and got it and he had to finish it through a crowd.”
Robinson thought the ball overthrown, so he elevated as high as he could to get it. When he came down with it, he saw that his defender had tried to pick off the pass, leaving him a clear lane to attack the rim. He took one dribble and put up the shot.
The ball hung on the rim, the scoreboard lit up red, and then the ball fell in, making Michigan winners, and a Robinson a hero at Mackey Arena — again.
“My teammates know how much this game meant for me,” Robinson said. “Especially with my dad playing here, me being from Indiana. I thought (my teammates) did a great job of never giving up on this game.”